An Introduction, of Sorts

I realized last night, as I read The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman (highly recommend, btw) that it had been a really long time since I’d talked about who I am and what exactly this blog is for.

Like. A really long time. Like, maybe never. When this blog started, way back in 2011, I had a viewership of zero and expected it to remain that way. I also had no experience or expectations to guide my posts and the content I shared. 2011 was truly the Wild West of this site. I was 21 and still coming to grips with the reality that I wanted to write fiction for living. I was young, in so many respects. So, so young.

Now, almost ten years later, allow me to introduce myself.

Hofbrau Pretzel
Ah, Munich. I miss you and your pretzels.

Hi! My name is Brittany, but if we’re friends you probably call me B or BZ, and this site is my home in the virtual cosmos of the internet. I created my WordPress blog back in 2011 after a guest speaker visited my Planning and Structuring the Novel class. He suggested that having an online presence would make us more visible to agents and editors, help keep us accountable to our goals, and that having consistent blog posts where we discussed our writing could help protect us from potential plagiarism and theft.

Just as I do now, I thought the plagiarism bit was kind of funny, because that implies someone has read my work and liked it enough to steal it. But I liked the sound of all the other bits. Visibility? Accountability? Sounds great, sign me up!

Almost a decade later and I’m still here, and I can tell you that you’ll only get out of your blog what you’re willing to put into it. Like so much else in life, time and energy are the keys to making anything successful. Maintaining a blog is no different.

So, what does this blog do? A lot of things actually. Mainly, it holds me accountable. I talk about the things I want to do, the goals and dreams I’m striving for, and then I either get to tell you how I succeeded or how I failed. Guess what? It’s a WAY better day when I can say that I’ve succeeded. And that’s motivating as heck. If you’ve been a reader here for long, then you’ve noticed the weekly, monthly, and yearly Goals posts, where I talk at length about my various projects and how I intend to complete them. It took years to get to this level of routine and habit, but I think I’ve finally found a system that works.

april whiteboard
My whiteboard is the linchpin of all of my productivity, and the blog is my virtual whiteboard.

The blog is also a place where I can write down my thoughts when they get to be a little overwhelming. This happens less and less as the years go by, thankfully, but occasionally I just need a way to clear my head, and writing has always been there for me.

I also share book reviews and my observations on writing, editing, and publishing. I’ll admit, the latter posts are fairly few and far between, mainly because I’m not sure I have much authority on the matter. I’m in the thick of it, learning and growing with every experience, and that’s what I share here on this site. I’m building a writing career, slowly but surely, and I’m documenting every step along the way on this blog.

If you want to know more about me, or to contact me, you can click on any of the links in the upper right-hand corner of this site to find my various social media pages. You can also find these links and my official author bio on the About page of this site.

Thank you so much for stopping by. After all this time, it was really nice to meet you.

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #1

Bloggos,

I hope you all had an awesome first week of the year! I know it felt incredibly long to me and especially exhausting. I spent yesterday doing some shopping and meeting friends at the local board game cafe to play some really interesting new table top games. I wanted my weekend to be focused on turning my brain off and recharging for the week ahead.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Although that’s easy to do during the first week of the year. There’s a lot to talk about.
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whales
    • Yes!
  • Write 1k on Tavi
    • Yes! I wasn’t sure this would happen, but I ended up writing about 1300 words and finishing chapter 8!
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita
    • Yes… and no. So, it turns out, I had already done some brainstorming and outlining back in October. I have no memory of this, but that’s cool since I no longer agree with the route I had planned. I’ve made some new plans, but nothing concrete. But, I did do a tiny bit of writing on this so I’m counting it a win!

Weekly Word Count: 1,477

The first week of the year is always a busy one on the blog. Goals Summaries, Monthly Recaps, and the blog overhaul and Yearly Review. Lots of writing about writing, collating the stats and accomplishments of the year and analyzing my failures and successes so I can make the most of the year to come. Honestly? It’s one of my favorite times of year, when I can really dig deep into my process and figure out how to tweak for even more efficiency and output. It’s like giving my mind a tune-up!

When it came to listening to Spying on Whales, I didn’t know if I’d really be able to finish it. The book is great, and Pyenson’s passion really shines through the narrative and his narration, but I am not great at reading/listening to nonfiction. Even something as interesting to me as the past, present, and future of whales (I freaking LOVE whales) still had me zoning out for large chunks of text. I frequently had to rewind a segment and figure out where my brain had turned to white noise.

But, I still finished it last night, and really enjoyed it. I don’t think the problem was the book, but more my short attention span. If you like nonfiction, or want a broad overview of the history and lives of whales, I highly recommend it!

I jumped back into writing my urban fantasy novel this week after ignoring its existence during the whole month of December. As expected it, it was sort of slow going. It’d been long enough away from the text that I didn’t really remember where I’d left and felt pretty distant from my narrator’s voice. So, I spent a lot of my “writing” time reading the manuscript over from the beginning. writing gif

Now, that’s always dangerous with a rough draft because it makes me want to edit. I see the repetitious sentences and the clunky passages and I cringe. But, that’s not the point of this readthrough. I needed to get back in Tavi’s head, so I could tag along with her on the crazy journey of this utterly pantster novel. And it worked! In fact, it not only worked, but got me excited about this project again. With rough drafts I’m always terrified that I’m going to hate them when I read them again for the first time. I fear that I’ll read the first few pages and wonder what the hell I was thinking, writing this garbage? But Tavi really surprised me! I think it’s really good. In a few places I even managed to forget I wrote it, I was so enthralled with the dialogue and the narrator’s voice.

So, that’s good.

Santa Sarita is percolating. The characters are taking up space in brain again and I’m almost ready to sit down and really hash out some words on this fic. I think it’s going to be much different than I originally planned, and that’s probably for the best. There’s a reason my first attempt at this story flopped, after all. In the meantime I’m going to write some small tumblr prompts and get used to writing these two once again.

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related

This looks really thin to me, but jumping up from 1,000 words to 3,000 is going to take some serious effort. And even then, I’ll still be about four thousand words behind my monthly writing goal. Which is okay. The point is just to write consistently again after so much time off. The words will come.

knight's shadowI have a backlog of tumblr prompts to work on, the majority of them for Santa Sarita, so that should be an easy one to knock out this week. I also have a nebulous idea for a blog post, but we’ll see if I go with that or something else I’ve been sitting on for a while. Don’t expect a book review this week. Sadly I have zero interest in writing reviews for nonfiction, and my time with Knight’s Shadow has been really limited lately. Honestly, all of my time is limited lately, so if I’m going to make my writing goals expect my reading to slow down.

Thank goodness for audiobooks! I just downloaded Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and though it’s pretty far over my head, I figure I’ll still know more about astrophysics by the end than I do now.

In other news, I received my rejection letter from Oregon Literary Arts. I was not a recipient of a fellowship this year, but better luck next time! I also received a rejection on my horror short story Lifelike last night, and it’s already off and onto the next magazine. Getting two rejections in one week feels bad and it feels kinda good. It means I’m working hard and eventually one of these emails will be an acceptance!

Talk to you soon, Blogland!

 

BZ

The Recap – December 2018

Hey Blogland!

So, I’ve done things a bit backward this week, but I really wanted to get the blog updated and share my successes and challenges of 2018. With that done, I can finally share how my December went, and what I want to do in the first month of 2019!

December Goals

  • Write 10k
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read three more titles!

How’d I do?

  • Write 10k
    • Nope. I did write some though, mostly fanfic oneshots that intrigued me and actually spurred my writing muscle into limited action.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes… technically. The holidays are a rough time to have submissions pending. Everything slows down and I’m still waiting to hear back on each of my stories.
  • Read three more titles!
    • Yes! I finished four titles in December, sending me just past my reading goal for the year!

Total Monthly Word Count: 3,902

This month was really a month of rest. I underestimated just how much juice Nanowrimo took. My brain felt wrung out. Numb. Capable of nothing more than the autopilot routines that ensured I navigated my day-to-day with moderate success. I didn’t pressure myself into anything. I read when I felt like it and wrote when inspiration struck. It was slow and meandering, until it wasn’t.

A migraine, complete with nausea, gave me the opportunity to listen to a couple audiobooks I’d forgotten about on my Audible app, and Skyward was good enough that I had to buy it so I could finish it before the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 9.23.00 PM
I’m dying… 

All three stories are still out, waiting to hear back. It’s tough to be patient, but it IS the holidays, and I don’t want to be THAT guy. You know, the nagging harper that irritates an editor into a rejection. I am not that person.

Yet.

January Goals

  • Write 12k words on Tavi
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Okay… That’s a lot of writing. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know if I’ll be able to write that much on my Urban Fantasy novel. I want to. Very much so. But it’s going to take some serious discipline to carve out the time necessary to do so. And, really, I’ll be happy if I even get close.

I did the math on my goal of finishing Tavi by April and that means I have to write about 16k words a month on it. I don’t think that’s going to happen, so I shaved off a few thousand and told myself that would have to do.

Sanctuary will come along in its own time. I need to read through what I have so far and spend some time brainstorming and outlining, figuring out what I want and need this story to accomplish. Once I have a map, I’ll know what to do. I’m confident that 1k will be the minimum I write on this project this month.

The beatings will continue until morale improves. Wait… Submissions. I mean, submissions will continue until these stories find homes. Yeah. That’s it.

knight's shadowAnd I’m reading. I’ve got an audiobook about whales and the second Greatcoats book in my bag, following me along each day. Reading will probably slow down a little as I focus back on writing this month.

So, yeah. That’s January. I’m optimistic, but a little daunted by the high expectations I’ve set for the first month of 2019. We’ll see how it goes!

This should be the last post of the week, barring anything that demands sharing. I’m trying not to think too much about the fact that I will hear from Oregon Literary Arts sometime soon about whether or not I was selected to receive a grant. Because, as if waiting for short story responses wasn’t stressful enough, I’m also waiting for a letter to find out if I’m getting a check to write for 2019.

Yep. I’m going crazy over here. And it’s only the first week of January…

 

BZ

 

 

New Year’s, New Look – 2019

I’m so excited to share this new layout with all of you! I really like this one. It’s crisp, super easy to navigate, and very professional looking. It also feels a bit more dynamic than last year’s. I’m not sure if that’s because of the contrasting aqua and purple (my favorite colors), or the widgets, or the site logo, but I do know I like it a lot.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk about what the heck happened in 2018!

In 2018 I said I wanted to:

  • Finish The Steel Armada
  • Finish Santa Sarita
  • Submit 2 short stories
  • Publish 52 blog posts
  • Read 65 books
  • Maintain my yoga practice

 How’d it go?

  • Finish The Steel Armada
    • …Yes! As far as I’m concerned, right now, this project is stamped ‘done’. It turned out nothing how I planned, and became almost a complete rewrite halfway through 2018. The Steel Armada became Exodus: Descent, a SolarPunk novella. I sent it to Tim the Agent™ back in August, but have not heard from him. I’m shelving it for now, though I have plans for future novellas set in the same world. So, final status of this project is: Done for now.
  • Finish Santa Sarita
    • No. I thought so, and then BAM, another sequel appeared. I bit off a lot with this one, and I’m a little worried about it. So, this will be a pretty high priority in 2019. I don’t want this project lingering over my head anymore. Project status: In Progress.
  • Submit 2 short stories
    • Heck yes! This was much easier to do than I thought when I made this goal. So much so that by the end of 2018 I had three stories out for submission.
  • Publish 52 blog posts
    • Yep. And then some. This was, hands-down, the best year the blog has ever had. 119 posts, an average of one comment per post, and over 5,000 hits this year has really blown my mind. Consistency really is key. Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 8.55.52 PM
  • Read 65 books
    • Yes! I read 67 books this year! It wasn’t easy, by any means, but I had just enough time and graphic novels to really pad my Goodreads Challenge.
  • Maintain my yoga practice
    • Hahaha. No. I got bronchitis two weeks into 2018 and fell out of my practice. I’m contemplating trying again this year, but with two jobs and some lofty writing goals, I’m not sure if I can dedicate the time.

2018 Total Word Count: 149,331 

Honorable Mentions

2018 was an eventful year, both personally and in my working life. I received a scholarship to attend the Oregon Writer’s Colony Annual Conference in April, which really affirmed that I’m on the right track and making strides in this whole writing life thing. Right about that time I started submitting my short stories for the first time in over four years. That was a roller coaster all its own, and has been a great learning experience and growth opportunity for me.

June saw my traditional wave of summer depression. I coped by binge-playing Horizon Zero Dawn and eating way too many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

But, July and August were some of my most productive months of the year, with the completion of Exodus and the rough draft of my newest short story, That Which Illuminates Heaven.

September was the least productive month of the year, and reasonably so because we spent 12 days in Germany! It was an amazing trip, the exact vacation we so desperately needed, and our first journey abroad together. We hope to spend more time in Munich someday, especially for Christmas. And of course, we have other travel dreams! Ireland, New Zealand, Italy, the UK! The world is a big place, and I want to see as much of it as we can.

October was spent readjusting to working two jobs and outlining and researching for my new novel. Writing was limited and that sucked, but it was all part of the plan. It worked out, because I met my word count goal for November, with a startling 25k words! That’s about a third of the planned manuscript, which is kind of crazy if I think about it too much.

December is a busy month in our house, what with my birthday and the holiday. Add in the mental recuperation from Nanowrimo and it meant I just didn’t expect much from myself that month. But I did finish my reading goal while I let my writing muscle relax!Img bookstack 72

I read 16,300 pages across 67 titles in 2018!

I also flexed my editing muscle this year with The Audient Void. We released two issues this year, and are on the cusp of releasing a new chapbook of some of David Barker’s previously unpublished short stories, Half in Light, Half in Shadow.

2018’s word was FOCUS. It was my mantra, the thing I came back to when I felt out of control or like I was drowning in my workload. Based on how well my year went, I think it worked. So, I want to pick a new word for 2019:

INTENT.

I want to be purposeful in my writing, I want to take the time to better learn my craft and write with more intention. I don’t really know what that will mean for my writing just yet, but I bet I will by January 1, 2020.

What am I doing in 2019?

  • I am finishing the Tavi rough draft. I’m already a third of the way there. In an ideal world this rough draft will be done by the end of March/beginning of April. Realistically, this will take the first half of the year.
  • I will finish Santa Sarita. This is a big job still. I think, right now, I’m really stuck in my head about it. I need to sit down and start writing this story again and let it take the reins. I honestly think that’s the only way it’ll get done.
  • I will revise Cards. This is the project that comes after the Tavi rough draft. I wrote Cards back in 2014, and I’ve learned a lot since then. Much like The Steel Armada, I anticipate Cards will require extensive rewrites. But, I’m ready. I learned how to do that last year and I’m equipped with the skills and knowledge to do it again this year.
  • I will publish something! This is a tricky one. I don’t actually have much control over this goal. There are a lot of factors that go into getting a piece published and almost none of them are decided by me. But, I have three stories out right now. I want at least one of them to find a home.
  • I will publish two blog posts a week. I’ve got this into a rhythm now, so I’m confident I can do it again.
  • I will read 70 titles. I exceeded my reading goal this year, it only makes sense to increase it in 2019.

If time allows, I’d like to…

  • Make considerable progress (30k words) on From the Quorum. This novel is the first in a planned trilogy, and is my longest-lived idea. I first met these characters in 2009, and they are still around, patiently waiting for me to tell their story. I don’t know if I’ll make much progress on it this year, but  it will definitely be a priority in 2020.
  • Write a new short story! I have three out now that are performing well. It’s just a matter of time before one of them finds a home. It’d be nice to have one waiting in the wings and ready to go when that finally happens.
  • Submit Exodus to novella markets. I actually think this one is pretty likely to happen. But, with Tavi and Cards looming, this won’t be on my radar until the later half of the year.

There’s a lot to do in 2019. I probably bit off more than I can chew, especially since I’m working two jobs right now. There’s also always the reading and editing for Madhu and The Audient Void to consider.

So, in short, I’m a busy busy lady and nothing about that will change in 2019. I look forward to sharing that journey with all of you in the coming months.

I’ll be back later this week with the Monthly Recap!

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 52

Can you believe it, Blogland? 2018 has come and gone, and that means there’s a lot to talk about. However, this post isn’t meant for that. I have to talk about the last week of 2018 before I can start making plans for 2019!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish any last minute reading
  • Write something

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Nothing too important or dense, but I made an effort to show up!
  • Finish any last minute reading
    • Yes! I finished reading Dragon Age: The World of Thedas vol. 1, just like I planned!
  • Write something
    • Yes! I wrote a little oneshot for a tumblr prompt! Hurray!

Weekly Word Count: 592

This week was really just a matter of tying up loose ends. I finished my lingering tumblr prompts, caught up on some reading, and made an effort to relax. I also picked up some stray hours between both jobs, so I worked a little more than I originally intended.

The really big question mark is, what the hell comes next?

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really nailed down my yearly goals for 2019, which means I don’t have any idea of what my monthly goals should be, which in turn means… I have NO CLUE what I’m supposed to do this week. I’m gonna fake it ’til I make it!

I spent December decompressing my the marathon of November’s Nanowrimo. I won’t lie, I’d followed my story pretty much blindly until it took me to a scene I didn’t know how to get out of. I’d started to think I’d written myself into a corner, and then on my drive home last night my brain decided to notify me that we could proceed with the novel at my earliest convenience.

So, that’s nice.

For now I’m really marinating on what really worked in 2018. What were my successes? What were my obstacles? How can I learn from each of these in order to make the most out of 2019?

Tune in on Tuesday to find out, and for the traditional blog renovation!

 

BZ

The Recap – November 2018

Bloggos,

Video games are how I decompress, and apparently I really needed to decompress this weekend. I completely missed the fact that Saturday was the first of the month and spaced on writing up my usual monthly recap post! I’m so sorry for the delay.

November Goals

  • Write 800 words/dayLogo_of_National_Novel_Writing_Month
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep Reading!

How’d I do?

  • Write 800 words/day
    • YES! This was a really big win for me and I am still doing (exhausted) happy dances.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep! Both Lifelike and That Which Illuminates Heaven were submitted to various magazines in November.
  • Keep Reading!
    • Um… Yes! I read four titles in November, more than I thought I did.

Total Monthly Word Count: 25,069

November was intentionally straightforward. Three bullet points are not remotely daunting, but the prospect of writing 25,000 words sure as hell is. I needed to keep the docket relatively clear in order to make time and mental space for the giant hurdle I’d set for myself.  And it worked.

Did you see that word count? Did ya? It’s the most I’ve written in a single month in all of 2018 and I am ecstatic about it. I worked hard, stayed up later than I should, drank a TON of coffee, and committed myself to making the time to make my goals, which is the entire point of National Novel Writing Month. So, that was a wild success!

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 12.37.27 PM

As for submissions, my stories continue to do well but not quite well enough. It’s an emotional rollercoaster with every email notification, but it’s getting easier. I think I’m becoming desensitized. Which, if that could hurry the eff up, that’d be great. The sooner I don’t feel the sting of rejection, the better.

And then there was the reading. Despite my four titles and my one book review, I don’t feel very successful on this front. I tried to read A Map of Days, and had to abandon it because I simply wasn’t motivated to pick it up. I am on the cusp of doing the same for Skyward, although I am motivated to read it, only too late. I’m out of time with it and there are a slew of holds on it. I’m going to move on to Lies Sleeping and buy Skyward so I can read it at my leisure.

Adding two books to my Did Not Finish pile in November does not feel good, but I’m not really surprised either. There’s simply too much going on in the month for me to feel accomplished at everything I wanted to achieve.

December Goals

  • Write 10k
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read three more titles!

Another straightforward month. It’s December, a busy time at Starbucks and in my personal life so I want to give myself some wiggle room. The holidays are stressful enough without adding my own unmet expectations into the mix. Besides, I want to end the year on a happy and accomplished note, so I can springboard into 2019 ready to shine!

I’m confident that I will make my reading goal for the year. I only have to read three more titles, and I think two of them are a shoe-in. I just have to pick a third book that will read quick.

Short story submissions will continue until each story finds a home. I am stubborn, infuriatingly tenacious, and there’s a steady supply of ice cream in my house. I will get these stories published!

The writing goal might be a close thing if I let video games get in the way. 10k feels like nothing after the blistering word count of November, but that’s kind of the point. I can’t write at that pace for two months in a row, at least not right now. I’ll just burn out if I try. So, I’m going to dial things back and write a little bit each week. Slow and steady wins the race or something.

Hopefully you’ll see some more book reviews this month, and I’ll get good news about one of my stories. Fingers crossed!

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 47

Oh, Blogland. How does November seem to fly by with ever increasing speed? How has Thanksgiving come and gone already? How am I supposed to get anything done if the whole world just keeps zipping past me?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Audient Void submissions
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes. Barely. And let’s be honest, there wasn’t much substance there. But, that’s how I felt this week, relatively substance-less.
  • Read Audient Void submissions
    • …No…
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
    • No. And I finally bit the bullet and moved this book to my “Abandoned” bookshelf on goodreads. It just didn’t grab my attention enough to compete with Nanowrimo and Spyro. I’ve moved on to the next book in my TBR pile.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! Oh my goodness, so much yes!

Weekly Word Count: 8,682

Do you see that word count? Do ya? Holy moly do I feel like a rockstar whenever I think about it. Granted, I’m so tired from all the writing that I don’t feel quite as excited as I probably should about crossing the 24k word mark on my manuscript, but I still feel really good about my progress so far. Less than 1k to go this week to officially make my Nano goal!

With all the writing this week, it really makes sense why I fell behind on everything else. Honestly, I’m not really even mad about it. I’m bummed about the Audient Void submissions, but I should be able to knock those out this week no problem.

Also, I maybe sank more than eight hours into playing the remastered Spyro games… Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

spyro gif.gif

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Read Skywardskyward.jpg
  • WRITE!

I have a surprising amount of free time this week, which I’m really excited for. It’ll be nice to get caught up on my reading, finish up my writing for the month, and get some chores done around the house.

That’s if I can keep my Spyro time to a healthy level. Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

So yeah. Writing, lots of reading, and plotting out how to wrap up this year. Can you believe it’s almost over already? We’re we just here, talking about the updates to the blog and all my dreams and hopes for 2018?

Yikes. I think I may be getting old. Time is going WAY too fast these days.

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ